Today, fire departments have a wide assortment of aerial apparatus from which to choose to protect their communities. These include rear-mount aerial ladders, mid-mount and rear-mount tower ladders and tractor-drawn aerials as well as a number of articulating platforms.
Each of these aerial devices requires a specific chassis configuration to permit the aerial or tower ladder to operate within the parameters for tip-load and platform weight ratings, both dry and with flowing water.
Whether on a single- or tandem-axle chassis, enclosed compartment space is among the most expensive apparatus storage area. Determining the appropriate make and model of an aerial apparatus depends on numerous factors, including: response-district demographics; building heights and setbacks; street configurations; overhead restrictions, including bridges and overpasses; and state regulations that pertain to vehicle axle weights. Fire station apparatus bay space and acquisition costs also must be taken into consideration to determine the appropriate aerial apparatus for your community.
After determining the mission of the apparatus, consider that ladder trucks that are outfitted as quints often suffer from competing space to accommodate the water tank, hose storage and transverse space for tools and equipment. The critical dimension that limits ground ladder banking is the available length that’s inside of the body. For this reason, many apparatus manufacturers prefer to use three-section ladders for 28- and 35-foot extension ladders. Although the retracted length of a three-section ladder affords some benefits, the banking thickness requires more space. The weight increases as well. (For example, a two-section, solid-beam, 35-foot ladder weighs 139 lbs.; a three-section, 35-foot extension ladder weighs 170 lbs. In the case of a truss-style ladder, which often is favored by some departments, a two-section, 28-foot weighs 118 lbs., and a three-section version weighs 154 lbs.)
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